Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sniffing the Mail

OK, I admit it - I sniffed my mail this morning. My dear blog friend Sarah told me a while back that she was going to send me a package . . . and I had a guess as to what it might be, but heck - getting a package is a finer thing no matter what it contains! She's a busy mama what with having baby #2 a while back, and moving after being in limbo for months. So the suspense built! :>)

This morning, there was a card in our mailbox that we had a package and I could hardly stand it when I recognized Sarah's writing. (Even the postmistress commented on how lovely her penmanship is! :>)) I gave the box a sniff right there in our tiny post office and just about did the dance of joy when I recognized the delicious aroma of *sourdough starter*! (I knew I could make my own sourdough starter using Sarah's instructions, but I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.) (Laura also has a sourdough starter tutorial on her site.)

Sarah also included a sweet card, some tea, and most importantly, directions on the care and use of sourdough starter. (Those aren't shown because I was too busy reading them already as I was taking the picture!) I fed the starter right away and am treating it like the newest treasured member of the family that it is. I have to admit that I can't stop sniffing it. :>) [Edit - I realized that this may have something to do with my offer to "adopt" Sarah's sourdough starter when she announced her family was going mostly grain-free. They've kept some grain in their diet, and sourdough is among the best way to go! I'm pretty tickled that she more or less took me up on it though!]

So. I have a few days of feeding before it's ready to put in something, and it'll take me that long to decide what to make! I've been drooling over Sarah's blog for a while . . . anybody want to help me narrow it down?

Apple Cinnamon Sourdough Pancakes
Sourdough Cheese Crackers
Sourdough Boule (am thinking I'll build a bit more confidence - and experience - before jumping into that one!)
Sourdough Focaccia
Sourdough Honey Whole Wheat Bread
Whole Wheat Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Sourdough Pizza
Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers
Sourdough Potato Bread

(and here are some sourdough recipes from Laura. Oh, and her whole wheat sourdough biscuits.)

Where to start??? I tell you, friends, this is a very good problem to have. For more finer things, go visit Amy, though her Mr. Linky won't be up until Friday. I just couldn't wait to share my excitement!

(PS - anybody want to commiserate on toddlers with colds who prefer open-mouthed, wet kisses for comfort? Now I'm snuffly and sneezy and with a scratchy throat. I'm thinking the tea in that box will get utilized sooner rather than later! I'm also laughing because Goose just woke up as I was finishing this post. I sneezed a minute ago and, over the monitor, heard "bless you, Mama!" Maybe I won't list her on ebay just yet . . .)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Freezing in Plastic

I'm a big proponent of freezing food, and also a big proponent of re-using containers, whatever they may be. However, did you know that when plastic freezes, it becomes brittle? This also goes for plastic bags (such as the ones with zip tops), to some degree.

This becomes a problem when you, say, drop something frozen on the floor (or against other frozen items). You have the hard floor meeting something frozen solid (and ice crystals can be SHARP!), with brittle plastic in between. Even pin-holes, which are almost undetectable, will let air in and moisture out, leading to frostbite if you put it back in the freezer. If you drop it while removing from the freezer, you'll want to take care in the way you thaw it because it could leak.

I was reminded of this while I was thawing frozen tomatoes to use in spicy tomato juice, salsa, and tomato sauce. I put the bags of tomatoes in the bath tub to thaw since I could spread them out and there would be no danger of condensation damaging the surface underneath. I picked one up, and water just *streamed* out of a hole the diameter of my pinky finger. I was pretty thankful it was still over the bath tub!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Link Roundup, (Intentionally Left Blank) Edition

I'm not sure why it is, but it seems that frequently as I click around the 'net, going about my usual business, I stumble across some very sad things, especially blogs written by parents whose babies are very sick. Sometimes they bring their babies home to a normal life, but very often their babies go home with Jesus instead. As a mother, my heart aches for them. I just read a mother describe an "Isaac-sized hole" in herself, and later, watching one of her children misbehave and then dissolve into tears, she recognized that same sized hole in him, too. And I wept with her.

And as I was going through my links for the week, I pulled up a story re-posted for the feast day of Padre Pio. I wept when I read it the first time and I'm tearing up now, thinking of a mother who did get to bring her baby home to their family. Read it here.

So. I'm going to spend the day snuggling a certain goose, and hopefully whipping together a fabric cover for the basket I bought for her bike. We've been holding it on with some velcro pieces and I think we're ready for the real thing. Now, how about some links?

I think I need a bit more sewing experience to figure these out, but aren't these t-shirts with ruffles as icing on cupcakes very, very cute?

One of my nieces digs headbands, so I'm always on the lookout for ones to make for her. Check out these t-shirt headbands at Zakka Life.

When I finally start knitting "for real" (instead of just trying not to poke myself with the needles, that is), I would love to make these adorable knitter's gift tags when I give my creations away! (Which is presuming that I'll *ever* get good enough to give them away . . .)

Here are some French toast recipes from Tipnut, along with some basic French toast tips and a recipe.

Here is a wonderfully-photo-detailed tutorial on how to make your own cake flour at Joy the Baker.

Sarah made some delicious-sounding sourdough cheese crackers. Mmmmm.

I can't hardly put these under "make" since they're SO EASY! :>) Toilet paper pumpkins over at Chocolate on My Cranium. CUTE!

While there are a number of cute ideas on how to decorate your home for fall in five minutes at Nesting Place, I think my favorite is the display of silhouettes and how they're all done a bit differently but the display is very cohesive. I like it a lot!

Can't say I remember hearing about this Novena for impossible requests before, but I have a few prayer intentions that seem to fall into this category.

Happy surfing, and make sure you give your kiddos an extra squeeze today, k?

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Friend When You Need Her Most

I've been a bit sad the past couple of days. Nothing huge, just a few things that didn't quite go my way. However, I was blessed with a visit from my friend Shaye. We met through our work with the Nebraska Friends of Midwives and since we live just shy of 400 miles apart, we'd not yet met in person.

(I had however read Shaye's birth story of her youngest son. Several times. Makes me cry each time. And laugh when I get to the part about her grabbing her headphones and singing her way through each contraction.)

That all changed today. Shaye's hubs had a conference in the nearby city, and their whole family packed up in the van and road tripped out. They even packed up in the van again this morning and came out to visit me! Her sweeties are 6, 4, and 17 months. (I pirated the picture above from her little one's first birthday. Of course, I didn't pick my camera up a single time they were here!)

Once they got here, we loaded BACK up in their van and went over to the farm to feed cats, pet kittens, chase chickens, and talk to cows. We also took a windshield tour of the area, including the pigs. We then came back home for some lunch, and I think between Shaye and me, we may have put together six complete sentences to each other. But it was wonderfully delightful as it was!

Since my Goose is an only honker and we don't get out much, I always wonder how she'll be with other kids. It started about as expected - "MY slide!" MY bike!" "MY baby Jesus toys!" (Nativity set) But after we came back from the farm, they were all a big jumble playing and having a great time. I think Goose especially took a shine to the 4-year-old . . . I don't know if I'm ready for her to be interested in "older men" yet but if she is, this would be a good one. :>)

So, in the midst of a bit of rain, God sent me a beautiful rainbow in this visit. Come back to the farm soon, Shaye, we miss you already!!

For more Finer Things, go visit another friend Amy - when are you coming back to Nebraska, anyway, Amy? :>)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Yumminess

Nothing says fall like a warm drink on a crisp day! My very favorite one is strawberry cider (image from The recipe:

8 cups apple cider or apple juice
1 10-oz package frozen sliced strawberries
4" stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves

Combine cider or juice, frozen sliced strawberries, the stick cinnamon, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Strain through cheesecloth - I use several clothespins to clip it across the top of the pitcher (make sure it hangs down an inch or so to allow room for it to drain). Depending on the size of your straining device (see comment below about using a funnel!), you may have to rinse it out or discard and get new cheesecloth, paper towel, filter, etc. After it gets to a certain level of gunked up, it doesn't drain very well.

If you'd like, you can garnish cups with apple slices, strawberries, or cinnamon sticks. I can personally attest that this does well in a slow cooker (such as for a party), and if I'm making it just for us, I pour it into the jug the apple cider came in and put it in the refrigerator. (Sometimes I have even used a funnel and strained it right into the jug. When I want a cup, I just pour one and heat it up! It's also pretty tasty at room temperature.

You can also use a colander with a bowl underneath, and you can also use paper towels, a clean tea towel, or even coffee filters (in a colander) but you'll have to pour VERY carefully to keep from dislodging them, and I'd wet them first. The strawberries turn into kind of a sludge, and you don't really want to drink that.

I have tried using plain frozen strawberries and adding sugar, but I didn't do the calculations to see how much sugar was actually in the sweetened strawberries, and I felt like I had to add enough that it just made sense to use the pre-sweetened ones. If you run the numbers and figure it out, let me know. :>)

Cider will go on sale during the fall, and frozen sweetened strawberries go on sale a few times a year. This helps to make this treat more affordable!

Two more recipes that I'd LOVE to try this fall are caramel apple cider and caramel apple cookies. Holy cow, don't they sound GOOD?

For more yummy fall recipes, visit Life As Mom.

Fun Giveaway and More

Frugal Family Fun Blog is hosting a fun giveaway sponsored by, who features more than just furniture (with items from kids chairs to toys and games). Giveaway ends Saturday, September 26th!

Speaking of giveaways . . . one of my very first posts was a giveaway, participating in Laura at Heavenly Homemaker's spring giveaway carnival. She's doing it again! The fall giveaway carnival will start October 5. I'm already re-compiling stuff that I didn't manage to give away in my something for everyone 100th post giveaway. If you'd like to participate by giving OR by trying to get, stay tuned! :>)

Speaking of Laura, she has compiled a free ebook on Activities for Preschoolers. She included a link to my post on keeping toddlers occupied in the car! Please note that when you click the link, you'll actually go through her shop . . . and you'll have to register (can't remember what information you must enter). You don't have to pay, though - when it says they aren't accepting payments from your region, that's because it's free! I haven't browsed mine too much yet, but I think it'll be well worth the tiny hassle to get it. And a huge thanks to Laura for compiling it!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekly Link Roundup, Ouch Edition

So Hubs, the Goose, and I went to a big farm expo thing this week. The displays cover an area that is probably the size of our little town plus half again bigger. That's a whole lot of tractors to look at! Since it usually rains at least once during the three-day event, the roads were made with a big crest in the middle and slope rather steeply down each side, so pushing a stroller takes a bit of work! Not to mention some areas are gravel and/or rock.

I didn't realize it until I woke up yesterday morning that my abs are SORE - and Hubs pushed the stroller about half the time, too. I know, it's good for me, but even rolling over in bed makes me wince still.

Lots o' link love this week!

Do you have a Very Hungry Caterpillar lover at your house? Check out these Egg Carton Caterpillars at Skip to My Lou.

This Old Dresser Drawers = New Bookshelf post at Proverbs 31 Living is great! What an awesome way to find new use for an old thing.

The Object Project has a cute teacup flower series that is way cute! Scroll down to the bottom to see how to make the flowers, then scroll back up to see how they are used.

Something that you never knew you really needed until you saw it: DIY wooden wax seal at Rage Haus. There are some good tips in the comments, too.

I'm a big fan of duvet covers, but it can be hard to find one on the cheap when you actually need one. Sew4Home has instructions on making a ribbon edged duvet cover though I don't think they are terribly clear after a quick read. I'm thinking the idea would translate pretty easily, though.

Smallville Diary has a tutorial on how to make a simple bow. They're a nice size for a certain little Goose . . .

Calico has a great scrunchie tutorial. I have always considered myself an 80s child, but I have to admit I don't get the twisty bead reference. I might not have been cool enough.

There is a very detailed kid's chef hat tutorial at CurlyPops. It may be a bit advanced for me right now, but maybe by the time Goose is ready to do her own cooking show, I'll be more confident in my sewing.

The possibilities are endless for this rubber stamp roller at Just Something I Made. The post shows a pennant design, but it would translate to anything you could come up with!

Here's a technique you didn't know you needed to know until now: How To Make Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets at ArtMind. How cool is that?!?

This is my current favorite post EVER: Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is talking about Natural Cleaners, specifically vinegar, peroxide, and baking soda. I didn't know that when you spray vinegar and then peroxide and let them dry, the combination is MORE effective than bleach - but far less toxic and/or dangerous!

I'm intrigued by this Corn Cob Jelly Recipe at Cents to Get Debt Free. What especially caught my eye was that it "tastes like honey" but then I realized one needs to use a lot of white sugar to get that effect. :>)

I was fascinated by this post at Farm Home Life that Green Beans Can Be Dried Beans, Too! I mentioned this to Lori, and learned the concept is old hat for her. Maybe a post on this, Lori? :>)

My dad brought me some apples, and I've already made some sauce but I'm thinking hard about halving or quartering this apple pie in a jar recipe at I saw it somewhere else first, but wanted to see the reviews. They're all pretty good!

I've said before that Jen at Conversion Diary usually hits me between the eyes about once a week. This week, it was Of Cat Ownership and Little Sins. I was hoping she'd tell me how to find holiness in the hurking, but there is a much bigger lesson to be learned.

I loved this article on The Weeping Madonna of Akita by Sarah Reinhard at Faith & Family Live. My favorite part, the part that stopped me in my tracks:
Mary had a reason for her weeping, a purpose. She was weeping for me, for the potential that I’m not using, for the graces I’m ignoring. She was weeping for the wounds I inflict on her Son every day, when I’m rushed and mean, when I’m crucifying Him all over again with my lack of charity.
This is something I need to be reminded of every day.

Best news I've heard all week: In Brazil, where the abortion rate is breathtakingly high, pregnant women are being given the chance to hold life-sized models of their unborn babies, thanks to an invention that converts data from ultrasound and MRI scans. Let me be the first to say that I am not a fan of exposing babies in the womb to MRIs and ultrasounds unnecessarily. I know women who refuse ultrasounds totally, unless there is a suspected problem, because the technology has not been proven unsafe or safe on the developing baby. But if this could mean the difference between life and abortion? I'm all for it.

(And as an aside, I think I'm actually kind of familiar with the technology of which they speak in the article. The manufacturing plant where I was HR administrator was developing some projects for the government using this technology. Cool stuff!)

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is having a October Fest Carnival of Super Foods. Click over to see what the topics will be on which dates. I plan to take a good look at the recipes submitted to see how I can continue to move our family toward more healthy eating.

Amy at Finer Things is one of five hosts for a Fall Festival Blog Style. Go check it out to see who else is hosting and what the themes are - they're not quite what I expected and it looks to be fun!

Happy surfing -

Friday, September 18, 2009

Freezing Tomatoes and Green Peppers

This summer, I've been blessed to have tomatoes coming out my ears. Not literally, thank goodness, but from my garden. This picture shows one picking - I've done that a few times a week for the past two or three months! I've given some away, canned spicy tomato juice and jalapeños, frozen jalapeños, salsa, canned tomato sauce (need to post about that!), but freezing tomatoes is my go-to thing. Back when I was first gardening, I didn't really have enough tomatoes to can, nor the equipment or courage to do it anyway. So I froze them. I still like to have some in the freezer, plus it's a good way to keep them until I get enough to can juice or sauce.

I pick all the ripe ones, then wash out one side of my sink. I rinse the tomatoes individually under running water on the other side, rubbing my hands over the outside to remove any debris and using my thumb to pop the stem off, and stack them in the clean side.

I then core each tomato by cutting around the stem area so it makes a little cone. Pull the cone out, and discard. If there are any bad spots, I cut around them. The tomato at right was chomped on by grasshoppers, and I ended up cutting off the entire top half of the tomato to get out the "ick". I start by cutting conservatively, then give it a sniff. If I smell anything bad, I rinse my knife and keep cutting until all I can smell is summer sunshine and fresh tomato.

I then put the whole tomato (or what's left after cutting out the bad spots) in freezer bags. I've found that if you quarter or halve the tomatoes, you can fit far more in a bag, but then it's much more difficult to remove them without completely thawing.

I use these tomatoes in unstuffed green peppers (recipe coming soon!) and any recipe calling for whole or diced tomatoes. I don't care for the texture of canned diced tomatoes, so I usually puree them or just use sauce if appropriate instead.

Note that I don't blanch the tomatoes - I prefer to keep the skins on because they're easier to separate without thawing. To use, I just pull out the number of tomatoes I need and run the still-frozen tomatoes under warm water. The skins slips right off. I then thaw and use, or in the case of soup and the like, I toss the whole frozen tomato in and just let it thaw.

I also froze some "green pepper pucks" for the first time this year. I usually wash my peppers, quarter them, cut out the seeds and membranes, and just freeze that way, but I thought I'd go one step further this year.

I used my chop wizard to mince the pieces (I prefer my green pepper small), then packed them pretty tightly in the cups of my silicone muffin pan. I added just enough water to come to the top so they would hold together, then froze it. Once solid, I popped the pucks out of the muffin pan and put them in a freezer bag. My muffin pan cups hold just under 1/2 cup each. Again, depending on the circumstances, I will either thaw and drain the peppers, or just toss them in and let them melt. (Note that you need a cookie sheet under the muffin pan for stability.)

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as MOM!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Motion Sickness Helps

So I married a private pilot. And I get motion sickness sitting still. Not the best combination! After our vacation with a TON of driving, I was thinking I ought to compile a list of different things I've tried and/or found that help. Here are some things that I've found to help me tolerate travel:

Dramamine was one of the first things I tried many years ago when I started having difficulty with motion sickness. For me, sometimes it seems to work better than other times. This year on our trip, I used the Wal-Mart generic version and was pleased. I also used Bonine for many years and thought it worked about as well as Dramamine. I would like to point out that I did not take either of these while pregnant or nursing!

Queasy Pops and Preggie Pops are something else that I've used for many years. After I became pregnant, I checked with my midwife to make sure the queasy pops were OK and she was fine with all of the ingredients, but check with your own health care provider if you are pregnant to make sure. The ginger ones are SPICY, and the sour ones are SOUR, but they both seemed to help with the nausea of travel. (I thankfully didn't have much trouble with morning sickness.) My favorite ones are the spearmint and peppermint, though I have most of the flavors on hand.

I think I lost these after a few uses, but I do remember having something similar to Seaband Wristbands. The key here seems to be finding the right pressure point and the right level of pressure, or tightness in the wristbands.

Plain old oranges right from the grocery store helped me some, too. I would peel back part of the rind, then pop the entire thing in a plastic bag. When I was feeling yucky, I'd pull it out and sniff - easy as that! Your mileage may vary, though - try substituting something of which you enjoy the smell and see how it works.

Something that helps in addition to other things are ice packs, especially on the back of the neck and/or the forehead. I am always amused that some people are cold on airplanes - during every flight I've taken, I've been HOT. Poor Hubs, he'll have us at such an altitude that the temps are around 60 and I'll think it's just about right. Woe to him if he tries to turn the heater on, too! Oddly enough, if he touches me, I feel cool to him, and along those lines his touch feels HOT. (So much that he gets the stink eye and immediately withdraws said touch.)

I picked up some MotionEaze on our trip. I usually used it in addition to the off-brand Dramamine, but it seemed to help. I like the smell, so perhaps that was part of it. I think it could be used on kids, so long as they didn't rub their fingers in it and then rub their eyes, and I can't say that sucking on fingers covered in the oil would be a good idea, either.

By far the most expensive motion sickness help I've used is ReliefBand. My mom gave it to me as a Christmas present in the hopes that it would help me be a better air passenger. Basically, it looks like a watch, but you apply a bit of the included gel and position the "face" of the "watch" over the inside of your wrist. It delivers a zap, basically an electric shock, I guess, every several seconds. (It's not as bad as it sounds, I promise!) There are five strength levels, and while I have used the fifth (highest) one, I do find it uncomfortable. My experience is that it doesn't necessarily keep me from feeling yucky, but it does seem to help me feel better sooner, once I stop moving.

Finally, I have found that riding in the front and/or driving is a big help, driving especially. If I'm concentrating on the road and I'm the one making the car move (haven't tried piloting the plane yet and don't particularly want to!), it seems to keep my mind off being sick. If I must sit in the back for some reason, I try to get a straight line of sight out the windshield - the middle seems to be the worst for me because the rear-view mirror is in the way. Reading, or doing other things that keep me from looking straight ahead (writing, crocheting, whatever) all contribute to the urpies

EDIT: one more thing that helps me - sleeping. Especially if you have a little one that struggles with motion sickness, you might try to time the curviest part of your trip for early afternoon, when the urge to nap is the strongest. (Or whenever their best nap time is.) On our vacation, I napped several of the days right after lunch while we were in the car and it really helped. Or, you might try either starting your trip at night after bedtime or getting up very early in the morning, provided your little one (or big one, whoever the sickie is) will go to sleep once strapped in. Do note that sleeping in the car isn't really good quality sleep like in a bed where you can stretch out and move around to get comfortable, but it can be a help to get to where you need to go.

A gift my mom gave Hubs several years ago has come in handy - a case of sickie sacks. Hubs keeps a few in his flight bag, and they've been needed on a few occasions, unfortunately.

Anybody else know of any good motion sickness helps? I'm always looking to add to the list!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekly Link Roundup - Hot Date Edition

Since we're Goose-less, I told Hubs he needed to take me out on a date tonight. Nothing too fancy - dinner, and a bit of shopping when we're not rushing around with a huge list to grab before heading home for bedtime.

Anyway. Lots o' link love this week!

Lori posted about Dollar Store Crafts which I haven't perused thoroughly but I've already seen some similar projects to those which have been recently mentioned here come up on there, so I'm guessing there are a few tweaks for making them on the cheap. Looks like some good ideas!

I got a kick out of How to Turn an Ugly Coffee Table Into a Bench at Curbly. It really is pretty cute after its makeover.

Cheap, easy princess wand at No Time For Flashcards - most importantly, it appears to hold up well to toddlers.

As a lover of all fall decorations, I was smitten by these Fabric Pumpkins at The Idea Room.

I actually tried this Yogurt Swirled with Peanut Butter, Honey, and Graham Crackers and it's as good as it sounds. I think I needed to go lighter on the peanut butter and honey and heavier on the yogurt, personally. No amounts are given, so it's an honest-to-goodness dump and stir. (@ The Kitchn)

Previously mentioned, I canned some of this Roasted Tomato Sauce though I was too stuffed up to smell it and haven't tried eating any yet. Personally, I'm thinking I prefer something thicker for pasta sauce, so I might have to try reducing a jar and see what happens. Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog gives it high marks, and she's pretty trustworthy. :>)

These Rice Crispie Treats for the Indecisive at the Entertaining Kitchen have everything I love to eat but the kitchen sink. I'm thinking it might be in my hips' best interest that I NOT make these. (Thanks a lot, Valerie . . .)

Something I've not yet wrapped my mind around yet, here is Heather's link on How to Make Homemade Hamburger Buns (which of course can be shaped for hotdogs, brats, etc.). Love that they can be frozen! A pack of buns around here tends to turn green before we get them all used up, unfortunately.

I was intrigued at this list of 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't at Planet Green. My dad has a compost pile, though even though they add to it frequently, it just keeps packing down and he never bothers using it on the garden. And he told me that he wouldn't bother composting if he had chickens, so maybe it isn't something I'll pursue. (Do you compost, Lori?)

Skip to My Lou has a post with links on Fun Ways to Wrap Packages, to help you plan ahead for the holidays. I subscribe to the theory that a gift can be greatly improved by its packaging, regardless of the cost. (cough*thrifted*cough)

Tipnut has a page on Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware. I have one skillet and am afraid of it. Since I'm getting canning down, perhaps that'll be next on my To Figure Out list. (What, don't you have one of those?)

As usual, this will be great for when Goose is older, but here is a Creation Station at Crafty Crow, similar to Valerie's previously mentioned Invention Kit.

Lots of good ideas from Trent at the Simple Dollar in 12 Clever Substitutions That Save Money (Nearly) Effortlessly - most interesting to me was the suggestion to use ammonia in cleaning your oven.

Faith and Family Live had a wonderful article in honor of The Birth of Mary. St. Anne, Mary, and so many others give us a wonderful example as mothers.

I thought this was an interesting article on Helicopter Parenting, Baby Boomers, and Financial Dependence at The Simple Dollar. We want the best for our kids, but sometimes we don't think about the long term cost . . .

Happy surfing!

Friday, September 11, 2009

About Me, Part 3

So during part 2, I related that I had moved to Colorado Springs to coordinate a mission located in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I managed to do OK at my job. The first several times I had to speak at churches were pretty nerve-wracking (I won't even tell you what I blurted out by accident at the first one), but I soon got more comfortable with my speech, myself, and my job and had a lot of fun meeting people and visiting beautiful places. (Also, I had no idea that so many people slept during the sermon at church. You hear about it, but it's a much different thing to see it from the front!)

One of my favorite visits was to Leadville, Colorado. On the twisty, windy drive there, I endured road construction and people in RVs with no agenda and certainly not my sense of urgency. About halfway into my trip, I realized I was NOT going to make it on time. I left a message for the priest, and got there as soon as I could, "sneaking" into the front row once I made it. (Yeah, try doing THAT sometime.) The Gospel reading was on Mary and Martha (Luke 10:39-42). I tossed parts of my carefully-written speech out the proverbial window, and spoke about how I really had Martha's heart that day. I then connected it back with the missioners' work and how they helped me see countless ways to be more like Mary - and it ended up being one of my best talks ever.

Then came September 10, 2001. I don't remember where I was when I received the call; I don't even remember all of the details now. Two of our missioners were in a car accident while attending a funeral. Miraculously, no one else was hurt aside from bumps and bruises, but for a bit, we weren't sure how badly our ladies were injured. I woke up the morning of September 11th with my bags packed, intending to get a plane ticket and travel to Hermosillo as soon as possible. As I was getting ready for work, the morning radio show indicated that something weird had happened in New York. The news kept getting worse and worse with regards to travel and more importantly, with regards to what was happening to our country. I spent many hours over the next several days with our travel agent, but there wasn't anything she could do. We finally put the adult son of one of the missioners on a bus so he could be with his mother.

It seems like forever now, but I think it was sometime within the next day or two that we learned one missioner ruptured her spleen, and after surgery and receiving blood donated by a parishioner, she was stable. The other missioner broke her collarbone and a few teeth. Once air restrictions were lifted, one of my bosses flew down to help sort things out.

I have never felt so inadequate, so unqualified, so ineffective as I did during that time. My seven years of high school and college Spanish didn't go far at all while talking on the phone to hospital staff. I didn't know how to deal with pretty much anything that had happened, let alone help the missioners. Plus there were so many things going on in our country at that time - I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing the National Guard planes patrolling the city while the flight ban was still in place. I didn't know at the time that it was the good guys and I was *terrified*.

The two injured missioners returned home, and I did some this-and-that stuff to help them re-acclimate to life here and recuperate from their injuries. I actually managed to recruit one missioner to serve, but with only him and one other female missioner there, the dangers of our neighborhood really began to surface. Again, I don't remember the specifics, but I seem to remember they had some close calls with people trying to break in, likely high on drugs. Around Christmastime, it became clear that it was no longer safe for them to remain in Hermosillo.

Personally, I was so shaken by my inability to perform my job after the accident, I decided it was time for me to move on. I was homesick, and tired of living in a "big city" where I didn't know very many people. (Though I was part of a very wonderful young adults group there . . . I think they are now called Gravity, since they are "grounded in Christ" - very cool!)

Anyway. I found a job about an hour from my hometown back in Nebraska and jumped at the chance to go back home. The teaser for next time - at this point, I was six months away from meeting a certain handsome Lutheran cow farmer. Stay tuned! :>)

Also, please leave a comment - where were you when you learned what was happening on September 11, 2001? How did it affect you?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

7 Quick Takes, No Goose Edition 2

Goose went to Grandma's again. She left this afternoon, after her nap. I'm already lonely. Hubs keeps doing our little "goose call" (like he's trying to call her in) and it makes me miss her more!

This week, I canned applesauce. Except I left the peels on, then ran it through my canning colander (that looks like these - I don't have a pic of mine!) I thought about blending the peels in, but they'd have needed to cook for longer and I was running short on time.

Then I canned more tomato juice. (This tip from Heather made a HUGE difference in my mess level - why didn't I think of that???)

Then I canned some roasted tomato sauce. Thanks to Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog for pointing me toward that link! The bummer thing was that I was too stuffed up to smell it!

I also canned some salsa, using a recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I definitely wore gloves to avoid jalapeño hands.

Thankfully I seem to be getting over my cold quickly. After getting up so early to make salsa, I got to bed at a good time Tuesday night. But I was pulling a batch of tomato sauce out of the canner at 12:30 this morning - ouch. I actually have one batch left to can, but decided to take a bit of a break today so I put it in the refrigerator and will get it done tomorrow. And I'm extra thankful my nose isn't running constantly like it was!

Doing all this canning has really been tough on my tennis elbow. My chiropractor showed me a stretching trick with a rubber band to help strengthen the muscles and hopefully help it, but for now, it just aches. And, I'm a weenie. :>)

I have lots of great links for my reading the whole internet post this weekend, hope to see you later!

Also please see this post to learn how September 10, 2001, was as significant for me as September 11th, and I'd love for you to leave a comment over there of where you were when you learned of the events of September 11, 2001.

Make Your Own Reusable Swiffer Duster

A while back, I used this reusable swiffer duster pattern on Flickr to make a refill for my Swiffer duster out of microfiber towels. I'll admit it doesn't work quite as well as the actual dusters - they are kind of stiff, where the towel is floppy. It works well enough, and is reusable! I toss it in with my cloth diapers, since I like to use fabric softener on the rest of my laundry.

The best part is that Goose loves it, and will run around "dusting". Her technique needs a bit of work, but I figure at a minimum, I'm planting seeds for later. That reminds me, I'm due to dust again . . .

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

About Me Part 2

Kitchen Tip Tuesday is taking two weeks off, so I thought I'd better come up with *something* else to post about, eh? :>) I managed to come down with a terrible head cold this week and am trying to get more things canned, so that's keeping me busy. Yesterday was a LOOOONG day - I couldn't sleep and finally got up around 4 AM to make salsa, thinking I could get it done and get a nap later. I didn't want to run the food processor thinking it might wake Goose, but by the time I got everything chopped and simmering, she was up for the day anyway.

By the time I put Goose down for her nap yesterday, I was *so* ready to eat my lunch and lay down, but she didn't take a very long nap. When I finally went in to get her, I discovered why - I'd accidentally shut her very best friend, our white cat, in with her. I think they had a good time, but there wasn't much sleeping. We all made it to bedtime without too many trials, thankfully.

So. As noted here in part 1, I knew within a few months of working my first job after college that Sam's Club didn't hold much of a future for me. I worked with head hunters, scoured the classified ads, networked the best I knew how, and applied anywhere and everywhere.

I finally landed at a marketing research company. The president hired me and told me I could pick one of three or four departments to work in, but just kind of tossed me into one of them for the afternoon. They took pity on me and treated me very well, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. The next morning, I went in and said I wanted to write reports.

That job was actually pretty fun for a "stats geek" like me - and actually, that was my suggestion for the name of our company softball team. In my department, we would get a data file of statistics, create graphs, and then write out explanations. I met a fellow from the neighboring department who was also on the softball team and we began dating. At that point, I was still very lonely, and I fancied myself in love. We wanted to get married, so I co-signed for a diamond ring (and didn't exactly see THAT as a red flag yet, sigh) and he proposed.

My parents were less than impressed, and our co-workers were surprised because we had kept our relationship pretty quiet. I jumped into making wedding plans because I so badly wanted to be in love and married, but within a month, I knew it was never going to happen. I didn't break things off, though. I was in a city where I didn't know many people, and we did have fun. Plus he needed me, and for some reason, women seem to like to be needed.

I commenced another job search that summer. I had piled up my vacation time and spent a month traveling in Mexico. My roommate from the Puebla trip and I traveled La Ruta Maya and visited a number of lovely ruins starting in Cozumel, hitting Chichen Itza, swinging down through Chiapas, across Guatemala, and into Belize. It was an amazing time. I returned about the time of my two-year anniversary with the company and turned in my notice. A former co-worker (who just happens to own a lovely calico cat quite similar to mine) had connected me with a job in Colorado, and I was ready to begin the newest chapter.

Looking back now, I still don't exactly understand why I hadn't broken off my engagement yet. I knew it wasn't going to work out. But as I moved to yet another new city where I knew no one, I needed something familiar.

My job was fascinating - I was hired to coordinate a mission that the three dioceses in Colorado sponsored in Mexico. The office had been at the Archdiocese of Denver but moved to the Diocese of Colorado Springs when I began. I was lucky that a number of women there were nearly old enough to be my mothers, and they took me in.

As part of the job, I traveled around the state speaking at parishes for mission appeals to raise funds for the mission and just to raise awareness of our activities. I wrote articles for the diocesan newspapers. And I got paid to travel to Mexico! Our mission was located in Hermosillo, which is a few hours south of Tucson, Ariz.

Hmm, I think this is a good place to stop for now. Note that I moved to the Springs in 2000, and as a "teaser", I'll tell you that September 10th, 2001 was as significant for me as September 11th, 2001. Until next time . . .

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I'm totally stealing this from Amy. Though I only have one labor to discuss.

How long was your labor?
Almost four days . . . with pretty tough labor for about sixteen hours.

How did you know you were in labor?
Contractions! They got serious after we had the car seat installed. :>)

Where did you deliver?
Hospital, though I'd have jumped on a birth center if it were available, and if the laws were favorable to allow home birth attended by a midwife, I'd have seriously considered it.

Sigh. I withstood 3.75 of the nearly 4 days of labor naturally. I even handled the pitocin. But when it became clear that Goose had to be yanked out with forceps, the OB on duty required me to have an epidural. I hated it.

Thank the Lord, no.

Who delivered?
Sigh again. My Certified Nurse-Midwife was there nearly all the time at the hospital but an OB had to swoop in for the forceps.

Someday, I'll post Goose's birth story, since I'm a huge birth story junkie. I'd love to hear yours - leave a comment or link!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekly Link Roundup - Extravaganza Edition

Goose, Hubs's little sister, and I went to an "Extravaganza" yesterday - no kidding. It's mostly an antique fair with some crafts and other randomness thrown in. I spent somewhere around $20 and came home with three little Care Bears for the honker (she's nuts about them), a couple of books, and a tractor. Goose's antie also bought her a little . . . umm . . . either it's a metal purse or a candy tin with a strap. Either way, it has Care Bears on it and her Care Bears fit in it.

Please note that I'm not huge on buying a bunch of character stuff, but it sure did keep her happy the entire two hours we walked around the place (plus an hour at Wal-Mart, which was past her naptime), and she's played with them several times since. Hey, I'm not a grinch, either. :>)

Oh, and we almost got into a car accident that would've been my fault - I needed to make a left turn on a rather busy road with no stoplight and as I turned, I noticed a van that I hadn't seen before. Praise God and thanks to our guardian angels, the van was able to stop in time. Whew.

Other than that, we've been picking things from the garden and I've been working on canning! So far so good, I think . . . [By the way, I've picked a bunch of gourds and I have a ton of Indian corn from previous years. I was thinking about trying to sell it and make a few bucks, but I don't know where to price it. Any ideas? I definitely want to sell for less than the local garden centers *highway robbery* but I don't want to give it away, either. Thoughts?]

On to happier things! Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog is giving away a copy of Absolutely Organized: A Mom's Guide to a No-Stress Schedule and Clutter-Free Home. Head over by clicking on the first link to sign up!

I am head over heels for these mini crinkly taggie squares at Chasing Cheerios that Melissa found via baby crinkle squares at Joy's Hope. And, as luck would have it, I have a friend that was kind enough to have given birth to a sweet baby girl a few weeks ago.

Wedding season for this year is almost over, but I'm going to hang onto these ideas at Skip To My Lou for Homemade Wedding Gift Ideas. *cough*could've used that a couple of months ago!*cough* Next year . . .

Now that I see a picture, it's kind of a "well, of course!" idea - apple vases at Craftzine. When I worked for the Diocese of Colorado Springs, we used apples as candle holders for an event. Very cute!

I got a big kick out of this Colorful Forest at No Time For Flashcards. I'm thinking the hole punching would have to take place over a number of sessions so I wouldn't go crazy, or I need to teach Goose how to run the hole punch, which could have some interesting results (i.e. I can see her trying it out on the cat . . . )

She's not blogging anymore, but there are a ton of ideas at She Does Hair for fixing little girls' hair. CUTE! Of course, we'd have to have somewhere to go to make it worth the time, but I digress.

Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog has a hilarious post on Bacon Bowls that are just what they sound like but better.

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship posted a link back to this older post on walnut-oat pie crust as a substitute for a graham cracker crust. Sounds good to me!

I have been on a quest forever, it seems, to find an insect repellent that I'm comfortable using on myself and my toddler. I hate having to wash off the icky, greasy chemicals. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship posted A Must-Have Supply for Camping in which she sings the praises of Shakalee's H2. It's a soap AND a bug repellent? I gotta check this stuff out! Just as soon as I figure out which distributor is actually close to me . . .

Here is another recipe for homemade fabric softener. Mixing baking soda and vinegar for this purpose never occurred to me, but the reviews are good! (Wonder if I can use Downy instead of essential oils for fragrance? I'm all about the April Fresh!)